Belated Budget Report

I’m almost a month behind on my promised page-turner of a posting after the January School Board seminar. The Board has actually met three times since my last post, so I have a lot to make up for. Especially if anyone really was counting on a page-turner.

The date of the seminar was changed because of snow. I learned that when the Governor declares a state of emergency we pretty much have to close schools because our high school is a designated community shelter. And even state of emergency days must be made up by students and staff.

All three recent meetings have been mainly about the budget. You can see the superintendent’s proposed budget (Jan. 21) and the School Board’s adopted budget (Feb. 17) online. Because the largest category of expense by far is teachers’ salaries, Scale A and Scale B were hot topics. Scale A for teachers’ salaries is likely to change next year, as it has for several years. The Board did talk about the benefits of committing to the scale as published to help teachers anticipate and feel secure about future income. On the other side of the coin, with Scale A the way it is, there’s the potential for large numbers of teachers to reach large jumps in scale at the same time.  When we present our budget to the public, this makes it hard to explain significantly higher salary expenses when 15 people hit a jump as compared to when it’s only 3. The proposed changes are based on the idea that while everyone makes more with each year of experience, big salary increases are smoothed out to years BEFORE and after current jumps.

As for Scale B, the Board recommended increasing the beginning salary by $1000. Not every step is proposed to increase by that amount. The discussion touched on a comparison of Scale B teachers’ salaries, not only with surrounding school divisions, but also with Fluvanna administrative salaries. Compared to other localities Fluvanna’s Scale B hovers near the middle, though at year 25 we are lower than Orange, Nelson, Albemarle, Charlottesville, Louisa, Greene, Cumberland and Buckingham (Buckingham surpasses us by more than $4000). Compared to many of the same localities, Fluvanna’s administrative salaries are high.

Some details of the proposed budget were left for later. For example, the state will pay for part of the cost of 4 new elementary positions, but what positions those will be (if approved in the final budget) was not decided.

Our next meeting was a work session to consider the amended budget proposal. There was general agreement to go forward with the superintendent’s original recommendations, except to include improvements in Salary Scale B.

Last week we had our regular February meeting. Although a parent and student spoke to the Board during public comments about busing concerns, no one spoke at the public hearing on the budget. The next step will come this Wed, Feb 24 when we present our budget to the Board of Supervisors.

Also last week, the proposed school calendar for 2016-2017 (available online) was presented. There were no proposed changes to student days. However, it will go back to the Staff Advisory Council to look at assigned staff days. For anyone interested in discussion details, recent Fluvanna calendars have included 13 staff days. Virginia Department of Education regulations define a 200 day contract as 180 teaching days plus 10 days for planning, evaluation, completing records and reports, committee assignments, and conferences, and then 10 days for a continuation of activities as MAY be assigned by the local school board. All or some of the second set of 10 days is customarily “unassigned” in appreciation of evenings and weekends teachers work on those very activities (planning, evaluating, recording, reporting). The value of expressing that appreciation was weighed against the value of certain professional development activities organized by Fluvanna. Fluvanna has left all 10 days unassigned at times in the past.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps fill in some blanks between all those reports you can see online. More to come in March!

 

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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. The views expressed in this blog are purely my own and do not represent the Fluvanna County School Board, the school superintendent, or anyone else. Comments added by others are not necessarily my opinions and I am not responsible for their content.